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upon as a security for the peace of Europe,
This great alliance did not carry with it so resistless a weight as to be able to execute justice by its own sheer force, and without the shedding of blood; but it was a mighty engine of war.
Standing causes of ilisturb
Effect of personal government by the Czar.
The train of causes which brought on the war has now been followed down to the end. Great armies kept on foot, and empires governed by princes without the counsel of statesmen, were spoken of in the outset as standing elements of danger to the cause of peace; and their bearing upon the disputes of nations has been seen in all the phases of a strife which began in a quarrel for a key and a trinket, and ended by embroiling Europe. Upon the destinies of Russia the effect of this system of mere personal government has been seen at every step. From head to foot a vast empire was made to throb with the passions which rent the bosom of the one man Nicholas. If for a few months he harboured ambition, the resources of the State were squandered in making ready for war. If his spirit flagged, the ambition of the State fell lame, and preparations ceased. If he laboured under a fit of piety, or rather of ecclesiastic zeal, All the Russias were on the verge of a crusade. He chafed with rage at the thought of being foiled in diplomatic strife by the second Can- CHAP, ning; and instantly, without hearing counsel from •—.—' any living man, he caused his docile battalions to cross the frontier, and kindled a bloody war.
Nor was the personal government of the Emperor By the Francis Joseph without its share of mischief; for it of Austria, seems clear that this was the evil course by which Austria was brought into measures offensive to the Sultan, but full of danger to herself. More than once, in the autumn of 1852, Nicholas and Francis Joseph came together; and at these ill-omened meetings, the youthful Kaiser, bending, it would seem, under a weight of gratitude—overwhelmed by the personal ascendancy of the Czar—and touched, as he well might be, by the affection which Nicholas had conceived for him—was led perhaps to use language which never would have been sanctioned by a cabinet of Austrian statesmen; and although it is understood that he abstained from actual promises, it is hard to avoid believing that the general tenor of the young Emperor's conversations with Nicholas must have been the chief cause which led the Czar to imagine that he could enter upon a policy highly dangerous to Austria, and yet safely count upon her assent. The Czar never could have hoped that Austrian councillors of state would have willingly stood still and endured his seizure of the country of the Lower Danube from Orsova down to the Euxine; but he understood that Francis Joseph governed Austria, and he imagined that he could govern Francis Joseph as though
Even in Prussia the policy of the State seemed to be always upon the point of being shaken by the fears of the King; and although, up to the outbreak of the war, she was guilty of no defection,t it is certain that the anticipation of finding weakness in this quarter was one of the causes which led the Czar into danger.
In France, after the events of the 2d of DecemEmperor. ber, the system of personal government so firmly obtained, that the narrator — dispensed from the labour of inquiring what interests she had in the question of peace and war, and what were the thoughts of her orators, her statesmen, and her once illustrious writers—was content to see what scheme of action would best conduce to the welfare and safety of a small knot of men then hanging together in Paris; and when it appeared that, upon the whole, these persons would gain in safety and comfort from the disturbance of Europe, and from a close understanding with England, the subsequent progress of the story was singularly unembarrassed by any question about what might be the policy demanded by the interests or the sentiments of France. Therefore the bearing of personal government upon the maintenance of peace was better illustrated by the French Government than by the Emperor Nicholas: for in the Czar, after all, a vast CHAP,
* Memorandum by the Emperor of Russia, delivered to the English Government uhi ante.
t It was more than three months after the outbreak of the war that Prussia halted.
people was incarnate. His ambition, his piety, •—.—'•
his anger, were in a sense the passions of the devoted millions of men of whom he was indeed the true chief. The French Emperor, on the contrary, when he chose to carry France into a war against Russia, was in no respect the champion of a national policy nor of a national sentiment; and he therefore gave a vivid example of the way in which sheer personal government comes to bear upon the peace of the world.
Perhaps if a man were to undertake to distribute share the blame of the war, the first Power he would Russia arraign might be Russia. Her ambition, her piety, bringing and her Church zeal were ancient causes of strife, war. which were kindled into a dangerous activity by the question of the Sanctuaries, and by events which seemed for a moment to show that the time for her favourite enterprise against Constantinople might now at last be coming. Until the month of March 1853, these causes were brought to bear directly against the tranquillity of Europe; and even after that time they were in one sense the parents of strife, because, though they ceased to have a direct action upon events, they had set other forces in motion. But it would be wrong to believe that, after the middle of March 1853, Russia was acting in furtherance of any scheme of territorial aggrandisement; for it is plain that by that time the Czar's vague ambition had dwindled down into a mere wish to wring from the Porte a protectorate of the Greek Church